This unique exhibition brings together over 90 books with case-bound cloth covers by artists and designers, their names read like a roll-call of the leading artists and designers of the day. Philip Webb, DG Rossetti, William Morris, Charles Ricketts, Walter Crane, Lewis F Day, Selwyn Image, Laurence Housman, James Guthrie, Gleeson White, Robert Anning Bell, Lucy Faulkner are all represented. Published between 1866 and 1911 and issued by commercial publishers the books all come from the collection of Malcolm Haslam, co-curator of the exhibition with Kathy Haslam, Blackwell
Malcolm and Kathy have made their selection based on the grounds of the covers style and for the proximity of their designers to the core of the Arts & Crafts Movement. Every artist included had work shown at the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society, and 17 of the selected titles were themselves exhibited there; 4 of the designers were Master of the Art Workers Guild.
The exhibition and accompanying catalogue, with an introduction by Charlotte Gere and text by Malcolm Haslam, will illuminate relationships between designers, writers and publishers. It will highlight and describe the literary and artistic fellowship of a small select group who grew up round publishers such as FS Ellis, John Lane and George Bell.
Malcolm Haslam developed a passion for the Arts & Crafts movement while a student at the Courtauld Institute. He wrote his MA thesis on the artistic theory of A.H. Mackmurdo and began collecting art pottery. After a year or two teaching art history in Birmingham, he became assistant editor of the partwork 'Discovering Antiques', which launched a career writing books and articles on the decorative arts. He has written the definitive monographs on the potters Edmund Elton, William Staite Murray and the Martin Brothers. Always an avid collector, Malcolm Haslam began buying stamped cloth book covers over twenty years ago, and he has built up a collection of over eight hundred examples from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, covering northern Europe and the U.S.A.; while most of his purchases have been in London and Hay-on-Wye, he has found interesting book covers in bookshops as far apart as Berlin and Boston. At home, swinging cats has become an impossibility!
Charlotte Gere is an established authority on nineteenth-century design. Her many publications include Nineteenth-Century Decoration: The Art of the Interior; Victorian Jewellery Design; Arts and Crafts in Britain and America (with Isabelle Anscombe); and An Album of Nineteenth-Century Interiors: Watercolours from Two Private Collections.